By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter
CHEHALIS – The case of the Dryad woman whose numerous foxhounds were seized from a living area overrun with feces last fall has been settled with a plea agreement and a sentence handed down by a judge, but dissatisfied prosecutors are now asking another judge for a stiffer penalty.
Nancy Punches, now 80 years old, made a so-called Alford plea in which she admitted no wrongdoing but pleaded guilty to 10 counts of second-degree animal cruelty.
Lewis County District Court Judge Michael Roewe gave Punches a 364 day jail sentence but then suspended it for two years, providing she abides by certain conditions.
According to court documents, Roewe said that during the 24 months while her sentence is suspended she may own up to two animals, which must be spayed or neutered, and she may not engage in any animal selling, dealing, breeding or related commercial activity.
Punches was also ordered to pay more than $19,000 in fines, fees and restitution; not suspended.
Lewis County Deputy Prosecutor Kevin Nelson hoped the restrictions would last longer.
When county employees and volunteers descended upon Punches’ River Road property last Oct. 19, a deputy said he could not see the floor of some kennels because the water, mud and feces was so deep. One puppy was found dead and others were sick.
Her 65 dogs were confiscated, including three which survived the December 2007 flood with her.
Punches, who works in a hospital lab in Morton, started showing dogs in 1960 and has been breeding them for decades.
At the time, and at her sentencing on Jan. 25, Punches said she didn’t intend for the animals to multiply, but her fencing had deteriorated; she was in the process of cleaning up and finding homes for some and then the rains came “everything broke loose.”
The judge’s decision was largely in keeping with the agreement made between Nelson and Punches’ attorney, Bart Ricks, according to court documents.
However, according to the documents, the recommendation to the judge was the animal prohibitions be kept in place for 20 years. Roewe told them he had no authority beyond two years, the documents state.
On the same day as sentencing, Nelson filed a motion asking Roewe to reconsider, suggesting the law indicates Punches should be permanently banned from having similar animals because she has multiple convictions for animal cruelty.
Roewe said he understood the law to mean she would be banned after getting convictions on multiple occasions.
“The whole purpose of that statute is to impose greater sanctions on people who don’t learn from their first conviction,” Roewe said. “There’s only one conviction in the court’s mind, and that conviction includes 10 counts.”
Now Nelson has filed an appeal to Lewis County Superior Court, asking it to find that Punches should be prevented permanently from owning similar – unaltered – animals.
Ricks indicated he is contesting the prosecutor’s request, and expects to file a motion within the next week.
The Chehalis attorney declined to talk further about the case.
He did say his client has no animals now, not even the two the judge allowed for.
Ricks said he expects he and Nelson will argue the issue before a Lewis County Superior Court judge when a hearing is scheduled at a future date.
For background, read “Aged flood survivor loses her stock of prize-winning canines for the second time” from Sunday October 21, 2012, here